Top 5 drinks to pair with Lions tour

The British & Irish Lions’ tour of New Zealand is well underway with the first match against an All Black side set for this weekend – what to drink?

The best (hopefully) British and Irish rugby players are currently on their very occasional tours of New Zealand as a ‘Lions’ team.

They have already played four games so far. The tour began simply enough with a win against a semi-pro team earlier this month, but taking on New Zealand’s super rugby teams was a different matter. The first match saw the Lions fall to the Blues, but then they rallied to see off an unbeaten (to that point) Crusaders team. Unfortunately, they lost again this week (just) to the Highlanders, so are two wins from four now going into the first match against scary men dressed in black this Saturday (17 June).

The Maori All Blacks are not the national team of the same name as members of the squad have to prove they have Maori ancestry but it includes players with past and current caps for the fearsome national All Blacks.

As such this will no doubt prove to be proper test-level rugby before the men in red go on to face the really scary men in black on 24 June (via the Chiefs on the 20th).

For those watching in the UK, the kick off time of 8.35am is perhaps more conducive to a cup of tea and a bacon roll than drams of whisky and bottles of wine.

For those watching different time zones however, or for those without Sky catching up on the highlights then this minor inconvenience is no such barrier.

The Lions already have several drinks sponsors, with Sharp’s Doom Bar the ‘official beer’, Slingsby Gin putting the ‘G’ into ‘G&T’, Whyte & Mackay’s whiskies on hand to steady the nerves and Mud House’s wines effortlessly showing off New Zealand’s winemaking prowess.

On the other hand, as with our annual beer recommendations before the NFL Super Bowl, what you choose to drink at home is entirely your own choice and each of the competing nations has enough vinous, brewing and distilling prowess between them to cover all bases.

The Lions are one of those rare hybrid teams where both players and fans put aside their normal national interests and differences to work together and support each other.

As such, why not treat it as a time to explore the great drinks being produced throughout these small islands and, more generally, it’s a chance to celebrate that fact that while the Britain, Ireland and New Zealand might be smaller countries than most, they’re also producing some of the best rugby and best drinks in the world.

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